It's back to the cute sleepy jackal picture. Largely because I haven't slept well in weeks, and I haven't yet found a picture of a jackal contemplating a bottle of Valium. When I sleep I dream, and when I dream, I dream of reality. Waking up is confusing. It begs questions.
When I don't sleep, it's because I'm awake in the darkness staring at the ceiling, listening for the telltale sound. Cough. Hack. Cough. He's doing it again. He's choking. He can't breathe. My little boy can't breathe. I could throw off the covers and go to him, but there's nothing I can do. I could bundle him into the car to go to the emergency clinic, but in fifteen seconds his fit will pass, and he will breathe again. So I wait, looking at the ceiling. Ten...eleven...twelve. He will stop. It always stops. Breathe. Please.
This is Ace. He's older now, six, and he's long since gotten that Styrofoam packing peanut off his nose. A couple of weeks ago he was diagnosed with asthma. Despite twice daily steroid pills, which he'll be on for the rest of his life, he still coughs. Deep, wheezing, whistling coughs. Once he coughed so hard for so long, he fainted. Just fell over rigid, held a moment, and popped back to his feet like nothing was wrong. Ace is funny like that; he's so darn happy, and so earnest. To him, there's no such thing as a bad day. Even when he's passing out from lack of oxygen.
It could be worse. It could be FIV. He could have gotten out, and been run over in the road. I tell myself this, in the dark, staring at the ceiling. Thirteen...fourteen...fifteen. Breathe, honey. Please.